Managing stress during uncertain times
Raise your hands if, like me, you are still coming to terms with this new reality that we are currently facing. All plans and old routines have gone out the window.
All of a sudden you are having to assume the role of a mother, cook, teacher, wife and remote worker if you are also currently employed. This has taken juggling to a whole new level right? Or maybe you are unsure whether you will be able to make ends meet as your source of income has been affected. This is enough to make you pull your hair out or have a massive toddler-like tantrum where you are kicking about and screaming. This, coupled with being housebound, can be quite debilitating.
And yet you are trying to hold it together and remain calm. Having said that though, it’s totally normal to reach for this extra glass of wine, indulge your sweet tooth or binge watch a show on Netflix to take the edge off. It is human nature – so don’t feel bad. Most of us have not been exposed to such situations before and, as with all things, it will take time to adjust.
I wanted to share three quick tips to help you work on stress and anxiety so that you can try to enjoy this moment.
Breathing well has so many benefits and is such a key part of staying healthy and calm – it is quite potent and to me, it is a skill that I would focus on ahead of meditation.
At different points throughout the day, pay attention to how you are breathing. Where is your breath coming from? Does it feel shallow and quick? Make sure that you are taking in deep belly breaths to activate the parasympathetic system which slows the heart rate and triggers a sense of calm. Breathing into your belly also automatically prolongs your breath which also helps bring peace to a fraught mind.
If you feel anxious or like you are about to lose it, place a hand on your belly and feel it rise and fall as you breathe into your lower stomach. Better even – set yourself a reminder throughout the day to take long deep breaths into your belly. Continue this exercise until you start feeling better. The feeling of your stomach moving up and down will not only ensure that you are taking long breaths but should also bring some comfort in itself. Head to the link in my Instagram account (@the_net_life) or sign up to my newsletter to get access to my favourite 5 breathing exercises.
Pay attention to your thoughts
What types of thoughts are you having? What stories are you telling yourself? Are these honouring you right now and helping you? Examine these thoughts and determine if you are engaging in black and white thinking or focusing on worst case scenario.
If you cannot control the situation that is causing you concern, no amount of worrying will help change the outcome. It is just precious time that you will never get back. Trust me – this is coming from someone who is a recovering chronic worrier. Instead try and focus on the present to make the best of your current situation.
When you feel stuck with negative thoughts, just tell yourself “Stop!”. Saying it out loud can be quite effective and literally stop you in your tracks. Alternatively just clap twice or click your fingers to halt this spiral of negative thinking. Then distract yourself by turning your attention to something else. Either repeat your favourite affirmations, count your current blessings or focus on the task at hand. You can also practise mindfulness which can be as simple as noticing your environment – really look at the colours surrounding you, what sounds can you hear, how your body feels.
Nurture yourself and free your mind
Moving your attention away from your busy mind to your lovely body is a great way to release anxiety and stress. Exercise is a great start as not only will it keep you healthy but it’s an amazing way to shift negotiate energy and release much needed endorphins. It forces you to focus on your workout and allows your mind to rest.
Another option is to look at activities or creative outlets that will relax your mind. Do things that you love and bring you joy. It’s the best remedy for stress and anxiety. A couple of things that work for me in addition to exercise include painting, reading and cooking. If you are there thinking that you are not creative, consider this. Painting is a recent hobby of mine – when you are painting just for yourself with no one to impress and nothing to prove, you can get so much pleasure out of experimenting with colours.
Maybe try meditation or attend some online circles. Even though we are practising social distancing, there are so many kind souls out there running free classes and practices. Why not try something new with a group and feel the connection while nurturing your mind?
Human beings are resilient and throughout the history of mankind we have survived a great many things and we have adapted to changes. You can get through this as this too shall pass.